Last week Christine Byers, a police reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, tweeted with regards to the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri: “Police sources tell me more than a dozen witnesses have corroborated cop’s version of events in the shooting.” @ChristineDByers. The post garnered over 2,600 retweets and a number of news reports.
So why are we posting about it here? Because Ms. Byers was on FMLA leave—and has been since March—when she posted the tweet. The next day Ms. Byers tweeted: “On FMLA from paper. Earlier tweets did not meet standards for publication.” This tweet, however, sparked public outrage with people believing Ms. Byers had been terminated and causing the Post-Dispatch to issue, in part, the following statement: “Christine Byers is a police reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch who has been on FMLA leave since March. She is not involved in the Ferguson coverage while she is on leave. Her tweets are personal.” The line between many employee’s personal identity and work identity can sometimes become blurred—make sure your company takes steps, before issues arise, to guard against such issues.